Hi everyone! I’m going to try out a new regular feature: stories from other exclusive pumpers about why they ended up pumping and how they made it work for them. Below is Christina’s story about exclusively pumping after she had latch issues with her baby.
Why did you decide to exclusively pump?
I wanted to breastfeed from day one, but I knew that just in case it didn’t work I needed a back up plan. Of course, I only thought that meant formula. I hadn’t considered a pump because I wasn’t sure what I would really do with it.
When my baby and I had latch issues, and my milk hadn’t come in as quickly as I imagined (based on all those lovely pregnancy book descriptions), the hospital nurse said get a pump, quick! My mom went to the store, got the model the nurse recommended, and I started.
It was slow going and we did have to supplement with formula for the first few weeks, but eventually I got the hang of it and that was it. I was an exclusive pumper!
How did you make exclusive pumping work for you? Was there anything in particular that made it easier (products, tips, etc.)?
After the 12 week mark when my supply was established, I developed a schedule. I posted my schedule on the fridge to keep my husband in the loop, and he helped to make sure my pump parts were always ready to go.
The best tools you can have are support (spouse, friends, family, Facebook groups) and properly fitting flanges! I had no idea why my nipples hurt so much until I realized my fit was too small.
What was your biggest challenge with exclusive pumping?
Balancing my child’s needs, tasks around the house, and wanting to be free of the “ball and chain” pump. It was also hard to get a full pumping session in when at someone else’s house or if we had to go somewhere without feeling nervous or embarrassed.
The middle of the night pump is also the worst, but it was totally a necessity for me!
How long did you end up exclusively pumping?
I exclusively pumped for one year. I just weaned this week and my son turned 1 on May 31st.
What advice would you give to a new exclusive pumper?
Request to join the “Exclusive Pumping: Breastfeeding Without Nursing” Facebook group. That group was my lifeline at all hours for everything pumping related. [Note: I started an exclusive pumping Facebook group a few weeks ago that you should feel free to join too!]
Also, coconut oil [for lubrication before pumping] is your best friend, keep your pump parts in the fridge in ziploc bags between sessions, drink a ton of water, eat lots of calories (bacon!), and pump until empty (plus hand express if you need to).
If you can build a freezer supply, you’ll have more flexibility for weaning.
Bottom line: just keep pumping, never quit on a bad day, and don’t get caught up measuring output all the time – love is not measured in ounces!
Are there any other thoughts about exclusive pumping that you’d like to share?
I never thought exclusively pumping was an option because no one talks about it, and many people still don’t recognize it as breastfeeding. But it totally is, and no matter what anyone says, know that it’s an amazingly difficult but totally rewarding thing to do.
A big thank you to Christina for sharing her story! And – if you’re interested in sharing yours, that would be awesome. If you’re an exclusive pumper who has been pumping for more than six months or who has finished exclusively pumping (regardless of how long you pumped – anywhere from one week to over a year is great), let me know – thanks so much!